Day 9: From Cusco to Yucay

Yucay Travel Blog

 › entry 12 of 17 › view all entries
I escaped from being taken down by lack of hygiene. I escaped from the worst symptoms of altitude sickness. I would escape from both for the rest of the holiday too. And still I don't get off unharmed: I awake with an infected eye. During the first half of the day, it hurts really badly, and to make things worse, it's the eye I use for looking through the viewer of my camera. Yet it won't stop me from going on taking pictures (just switch eyes), and I won't let it stop me enjoying the holiday to the maximum.

But although it's quite irritating for me, I'm definitely not worst off: I can take part in the full program, while some are such a state that they have to skip large parts.

Our way out of Cuzco takes us a long way through the city, so that only after three quarters driving we can make a photostop for a view over the city of Cuzco.
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From there on, it's on to the old city of Pisac, high up in the mountains. That's where the Inca ruins are. Our local guide gives us a tour around the ruins, explaining very much about the life as an Inca (or as a Quechua, to be more precise), how they built their cities, their houses, their irrigation systems, the cemeteries, their temples, etc. For those who want (and I am one of them), there's an optional tour even higher up into the ruins, taking steep stairways and rocky paths. But the view from up there is definitely worth the climb!

Having spent more than one and a half hour among the ruins, it's time to descend to the modern city of Pisac, down in the valley (when the Spaniards came, they moved the people from the mountains down into the valleys: they were easier to control there).
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That's where we have lunch and where we visit a very large market. Time for some more souvenir-hunting (and I must say: a successful hunt it was too).

On our way to our next sight, we stop at our hotel in Yucay, which is along the road. During our five minute stop there, we transfer sickbay from the bus to the hotel, and afterward carry on to Ollantaitambo with the ones still standing and able to walk.

Ollantaitambo is another old Inca city, this one partly still in use as a normal town, part is in ruins (mostly the temples) and that part is now a tourist attraction. It's another piece of climbing to get to the top, but once again no one is sorry for going up. During the climb, we pass the terraces of the old Inca town, have beuatiful views, and on top we get quite a good idea of how the Inca built their temples.
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Very particular are the rockformations opposite the temple complex: one can (with a little bit of imagination) recognize to faces, one of a Spaniard (with beard and large bunch of hair), and one of an Inca (with crown). The Inca-people saw gods in these faces. And since the Spaniards looked like one of these gods, they thought the Spaniards were gods... with all imaginable consequences of that mistake...

From the top of the hill, where the temples were, we also have a good view across the holy valley (that's how the Incas called the valley of the Urubamba river, because of its fertility) and on the city of Ollantaitambo. From op there we can clearly see the old lay-out of the town, and the building style of the houses, with their trapezoidal shaped to make them earthquake proof.
Ollantaitambo


After descending the very steep stairs and visiting a few buildings at the bottom of the stairs, we commence our drive back to the hotel (we can't go on from here, because there isn't any road). But we will not go back in one stint: there is one more place to stop. That is at a farm where they sell chicha-beer. Chicha-beer was a holy drink with the inca's. This beer is made of corn, and we get to taste two varieties: the pure chicha (yellow) and chicha with strawberry (pink). Of course, we may only taste it after the ritual toast: drop a bit of the beer on the ground as a sacrifice to Pachamama (Mother Earth). But, our local guide tells us, we may not sacrifice too much: if Pachamama gets drunk... brace yourself!

These drinks are not strong (3% and about 1% respectively).
Tasting Chicha
Maybe that's why even I can appreciate it a little bit, but I am once again the stranger in the group: where almost all of the group like the sweet tasting pink strawberry chicha better, I prefer the yellow acid chicha-puro.

From here it's straight to our hotel (quite literally), where the first thing I do is acquiring a pot of boiled water to clean my infected eye (which started hurting again on the last leg in the bus). But since I get boiling water, I have to wait until it has cooled down a bit, I use the extra time to go into town (well, town is even a large word for this place), to buy drinks and water (drinking water). On entering the shop, I am involuntarily reminded that the average Peruvians is a lot shorter than an average European, and why their houses are so very strong.
Tasting Chicha
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Even as that reminder comes as a heavy blow, I still manage to buy what I came for without blacking out, after which I take a stroll a bit further around the place. A little while further, I join a few others from the group, who are doing the same.

After dinner in the restaurant of the hotel (trout as first course, chicken with quiche in blueberrysauce as main course), we settle down with about half our group in the lobby of the hotel, talking about the trip so far and playing cards for the rest of the evening.
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photo by: davdstraat